It is well known that human beings are both profoundly interdependent and profoundly unconscious—a dangerous mix. In our conscious and unconscious desires to protect ourselves, we “need” an enemy whom to fight against, control, or withdraw from. In Polly Young-Eisendrath’s decades-long professional experience as a Jungian psychoanalyst and a couples therapist, as well as her decades-long practice of Buddhism (especially Zen and Vipassana), she has observed how difficult it is for people to step back from the impulse to blame someone when their hopes and ideals are dashed. In a close relationship or in a community or neighborhood that we care about, we embrace ideals that foster both the disavowal of our own aggressive motives and the projection of these motives into another.

Drawing on Carl Jung’s theory of a shadow complex and Melanie Klein’s theory of projective identification, this presentation will examine the arising of self/other within a dynamic field of ideals and blame. It will also explore how we become skillful and wise when: 1) we gain insight into the “enemy-making factors” in ourselves, 2) develop compassion for these factors in all humans, and 3) create a mindful space between our cherished “selves” and the threatening “others” as we live together in all our relationships. Drawing especially on couples therapy and other dyadic relationships (e.g., teacher-student), participants will discover how to work skillfully with the enemy-making factors in themselves.

Polly Young Eisendrath, PhD

University of Vermont

Polly Young Eisendrath, PhD, is a Jungian Analyst; Psychologist; Author; Clinical Supervisor, Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont;Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont; and in private practice in … MORE